Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Needs More V8: 1948 Belly Tank Racer Lakester

Back in the early days of Bonneville Salt Flat racing, guys like Alex Xydias of So Cal Speed Shop took surplus WWII airplane external fuel tanks and turned them into low flying coffins.  The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) even created a special class for the customs (called Lakester) and out on the dry desert floor in the late 1940s, guys ran almost 200 mph with flathead V8s without the aid of forced induction. It was one of the coolest times to be Southern Cali speed freak, and you can relive it with this next feature.  Find this 1948 Belly Tank Racer here on eBay bidding for $4,450 with a few hours to go, located in Key West, FL.

The atmosphere at the early Bonneville events must have been similar to a modern 24 Hrs of LeMons race, with unsponsored hack mechanics showing up for a weekend of racing and partying.  However, before you slap on your vintage helmet and go racing, you are going to need to find an engine/transmission for this thing.

The seller claims this was built as a display mock-up using a decommissioned tank from a WWII era F4U Corsair, and uses 1940s Plymouth axles to hold the wheels up. 

See a better entry for the next soap box derby? tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. I'm guessing if you planned to make this thing roll at 150+ you'd best treat this as a belly tank and four wheels, with everything else in between in need of a lot of work.

  2. I'd fit a small 4 cylinder and find a way to make it streetable. You'd be spreading the history more than displaying it at shows and running races where these have already been.

  3. If this is a modern tribute build, then it's pretty convincing.

    3 exhaust pipes per side would indicate flathead V8 power since Ferdinand Ford designed them with a shared center exhaust port on each bank, although I can't imagine anything but the wee V8-60 would fit in this tiny tank. It was a 136 c.i. (2.2L) undersquare V8 making 60hp @3500 rpm. I've always wanted to do something cool with one of those little guys.

    1. Needs the four-banger from the little tank-periscope-window Merc CLA45.

      Hate the car, but the engine's interesting.

    2. Ooh, yeah. 355hp from a 2.0L, in a production sedan, with a warranty.

      I have a friend who is building a W124 wagon w/ 6.2L AMG V8 - maybe he needs a companion project to tow behind it when it's done...

  4. It's got a radius-rod front suspension installed, which is period-correct, but no idea if there's actually any structure inside the tank to support it. Real lakesters had a tube frame inside, and most were horribly contorted places for drivers to sit. There's no driver protection; even back in the day a rollbar and a windscreen was typical, and SCTA ain't gonna let you run without it now.

    It appears to have NO rear suspension, this may not have been unknown at the time but the best of the lakesters were quite creative, note the Kenz & Leslie car with its swing-arm rear suspension derived from the Ford torque-tube driveshaft housing.

  5. It would look nice hanging on a wall


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint Eastwood...it don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="http://www.IMAGE_LINK.com" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.